Robert Pollard

Choreographed Man of War

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Like Isolation Drills and his last solo outing, which was credited to him and Guided by Voices guitarist Doug Gillard, Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department, his latest effort, Choreographed Man of War, is pretty much a "must have" for fans and a strong pickup for the merely passing. It's the third straight excellent LP where all the songs are fully fleshed out and realized. Could it be that Pollard's former too-prevalent penchant for fragments, impromptu sketches, incomplete songs, and half-assed ideas has been killed and buried, and that he is permanently committed to the extra work of fulfilling every great riff, hook, chord change, hypnotic guitar pattern, and urgent melody that buzzes into his head? These ten songs all come charging out of the gate with his raspiest early Wire-like sound. (Again, though, it's clearly recorded at Dayton's Cro-magnon, not lo-fi or trebly like once upon a time.) For that distinct tiny minority of GBV purists who think an LP like Isolation Drills is too "slick" for them, this will be satori for them, as it's as rough and ready and mainlined an edgy sound as possible, as on such immediate winners as "I Drove a Tank," "She Saw the Shadow," the pop-jewel "Edison's Memos," and "Bally Hoo," which reminds of GBV's 1992 Propeller favorite, "Weed King." The closing, seven-minute "Instrumental Beetle" is notable, combining Pollard's love of old Who epics with Wire's Chairs Missing/154 esoteric, crushing drone chords. With a crack rhythm section in recently-departed-from-GBV talents Greg Demos and Jim MacPherson matching Pollard's clear inspiration, this is one great, spicy record.

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